Do you know Etsy?
Well, if you are into handcrafted items that reflect your personal style and can barely be found among the mainstream retailers, this is your place – as a seller and as a consumer. Or simply to get inspiration.
Etsy was launched in 2005 as an e-commerce website that focused on handcrafted items. A clear opponent to the shiny, fast-paced online fashion shops, etsy focused on the products with a more personal note, handcrafted by people like me and you. Etsy quickly became the place for all those undiscovered artisans who so far only had three possibilities to merchandise their goods:
1) open up a local shop – which often times was too big a step in terms of the fix costs or
2) sell their stuff on ebay. Well yes, you surely reach a big audience on ebay, but only if they find you. And often times ebay was not the appropriate platform for such goods since these were not yet brands that gave you a certain reference of quality but instead you simply had to hope the product is as good as it looked on the photos. However, the advantage of ebay is that it offers a gigantic marketplace and you are only charged if you sell anything.
3) open up your own online shop. This may make a lot of sense and costs should today be quite easy to control. However, here again, you may also have to invest into ad spending in order to assure people will find you. The web is huge and confusing.
I remember speaking to friends about the problems young German designers have when they try to sell their dresses, costumes, etc they had to design and create as part of their fashion design university curriculum. It takes a lot of effort and then in the end they ended up without an adequate marketplace to sell it. After some research, I found dawanda which does exactly this: sell unique products from small-scale producers, very often handcrafted. So there was no need to come up with such a marketplace since it already existed. And since Etsy was founded in 2005 it soon also entered the German market of course supported by what had by then already become a strong brand and the synonym of a marketplace for handcrafted uniques.
Today, 7 years since its foundation, Etsy has more than 15 million registered members and more than 875,000 registered sellers who have found on Etsy their personal storefront to sell their goods. And customers found an online marketplace where they can spend hours browsing through unexpected products from all over the world and also sharing them with their friends via facebook, twitter or pinterest. Since e-commerce projects can easily (well compared to traditional business models, I do know what an online rollout means!) be rolled out in numerous markets, Etsy is today present in more than 150 countries. That’s what you call a head start.
One thing I’d like to add: Since Etsy not only sells handcrafted items but also antiques or vintage products, this marketplace also profits from the current trend to invest in such goods. In a different product category such as cars we do see a very strong trend towards youngtimers and oldtimers which is clearly reflected in price increases of up to 10% per year.
Here is some insight into the technical side of Etsy and how it harnesses SlideShare (a little bit promotional though):